What is Memoto?
Memoto is a Swedish startup with the vision to give everyone the opportunity to have a photographic memory.
What does “Memoto” mean?
It has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? We are associating it with the words “memory motor”. In Latin, it would mean something along the lines of “Memory ear”, but in Japanese it means something having to do with the eyes. We've also recently found out that memoto (short form of "memfoto") means "taking pictures" in Indonesian - a fortunate coincidence that baffled our whole team!
Why have you started Memoto?
We realized that a large part of our lives are missing from our memories; Many fantastic and special moments become blurred together after a while. We believe that this is the reason many of us feel like life is rushing by and way too short.
We wanted to find a way to capture more of our lives, and enjoy the present as it happens.
Who is behind Memoto?
Today, we are about 15 people with different backgrounds. Most of us have worked with startups before in different ways. Our CEO, Martin Källström, also founded Twingly.
Full list of employees, in approximate order of starting date:
- Martin Källström (CEO)
- Oskar Kalmaru (Marketing and communication)
- Björn Wesén (Camera and electronics engineer)
- Eric Hampusgård (iOS & systems developer)
- Simon Pantzare (Software backend developer)
- Sebastian Björkelid (UX and product manager)
- Dan Berglund (Software developer)
- Sebastian Jansson (Image analysis & algorithms)
- Ville Bloom (Film crew)
- Amanda Alm (Film crew)
- Jenny Dahl (Community Director)
- Linus Pizunski (Camera firmware engineer)
- Joakim Berglund (Android developer)
- Sarah Massengale (Community Manager)
- Christoffer Lejdborg (iOS developer)
- Herman Olsson (iOS developer)
Where are you located?
Most of our team are in Sweden but one of our co-creators [Daniel Thalhammer] is in San Francisco, US. In Sweden our headquarters are in Linköping, but we also have offices in Stockholm and Lund. We will be opening a London, UK office in the near future.
How are you funded?
As of October 2012:
by the founders’ own money
governemental innnovation funds
a venture capitalist (Passion Capital in UK)
two business angels (Peter Read, advisor/director of top tier investors such as Balderton, Benchmark and Sequoia and tech companies such as Skype and Kindo; and Felix Petersen, founder of Plazes and Amen and advisor of Soundcloud)
How does the Memoto camera work?
The Memoto camera is a tiny camera and GPS that you clip on and wear. It’s an entirely new kind of digital camera with no controls. Instead, it automatically takes photos as you go. The Memoto App then, seamlessly and effortlessly, organizes them for you.
The camera is always on, until you put the lens facedown or place it in a dark place such as your pocket. And it’s weather protected, so you don’t have to worry about it in inclement weather. It takes two photos a minute, geotagged and with recorded orientation so that we can show them upright no matter how you are wearing the camera.
This all works together to give you pictures of every single moment of your life, complete with information on when you took it and where you were. This means that you can revisit any moment of your past.
How does the Memoto software/smartphone app work?
Memoto's software organizes the photos to work as a photographic memory even after many years, without the user ever feeling overwhelmed or disorganized.
The Memoto app organizes all the photos into groups of “moments” on a timeline and makes them conveniently searchable and shareable. The timeline shows about 30 key frames from each day, each representing a moment you can tap to relive.
The image analysis and organization is made out of the images’ metadata, such as time, place, light. This enables you to browse your life the way you remember it.
Who do you think will buy the camera? / What’s the point of having all these pictures?
We think it is a fundamental human desire to get as much out of our lives as possible. One way of doing that, is not having to worry about time passing by unnoticed. So you could say Memoto is for everyone wanting to capture life as it happens, to be able to go back and relive it anytime in the future.
There hasn’t been any good way of capturing all the everyday moments - those we may not consider special but still make up the bigger part of our lives. Same goes with moments that we consider special in hindsight, but not as they happen - like when you meet your partner for the first time or your old relative for the last time. With Memoto, that problem is solved: with the camera always on and the app automatically sorting out the most important pictures from it, it’s like having a wearable, fail-proof, photographic memory.
How do I transfer my photos from the camera to the software?
You connect the camera to your computer, and the photos are automatically uploaded to Memoto’s servers. At the same time the the camera’s battery are also recharged. The battery will need to be recharged after approximately 2 days of use. There are no buttons to press. You just wear the camera, then charge it, then wear it again.
(Technical detail: the first time you plug in the camera, a desktop application is installed on your computer. This application uploads the pictures in the background, so you won’t ever have to worry about doing it manually.)
How are you supposed to manage all these pictures?
The Memoto app works very much like your own memory. It organizes the individual pictures, or time fractions, into groups we call moments. In a single day, your eyes record thousands of visual impressions. But in your memory, these small fractions of your day are grouped together and you only remember them as moments. Similarly, the Memoto camera captures thousands of pictures during a day, but in the app you are presented with the best picture from each moment. If you want to dig deeper into a specific moment, you can zoom in on it and view each individual picture. Much like you can push your memory to remember specific details of a time period.
Why do the images get stored on your servers?
Our priority is to make useful service even for non-technical users. There is a risk that hundreds of gigabytes of data will quickly overwhelm most people, which is why we put a lot of effort in creating a storage service that organizes the photos in the best way possible. It also allows us to create an API to enable an eco-system of apps. If you want the data on your own computer you will be able to download them through the API or in bulk.
Also, if you want to opt out of the online service, thereby missing out on GPS coordinate processing as well as automatic organization of your photos, there is a local storage option.
Can I share my pictures on Facebook, Twitter etc?
The app comes with features for sharing through the biggest social media services. Additional social features are something we would like to develop more of in the future. However, we want to stress that your Memoto pictures will always be private by default. That is, you only share pictures when you deliberately want to share them.
What happens to the photos when there isn't Internet access?
You will be able to temporarily store data on your computer when, for example, traveling in areas with no Internet connection areas. The data will be uploaded to the servers and processed at the next sync.
Also, local storage is an option.
Will it be possible to use the camera without ever uploading any photos to Memotos cloud storage?
Yes. You can use the camera with local storage only if you want. You will however not be able to use the data from the GPS and you will have to manage and organize all the photos yourself. The data from the GPS is not converted into a useful position in latitude and longitude until it has been processed in our cloud service.
Will it be possible to use the Memoto Camera without paying a subscription fee?
Yes. The first year you can use the Memoto App and cloud storage for free. After that, you can download all your photos if you don't want to keep using the Memoto App, and keep using the camera with local storage only. You will however not be able to use the GPS and you will have to manage and organize all the photos yourself.
Will I be able to download my images from the online service?
Yes. You will always be able to download your lifelog in bulk, even if it is to upload it to a competing service. We will also provide an open API, to allow others to build stuff on top of our storage.
We also have in our Terms of Service that in the worst case scenario, where Memoto for one reason or another need to shut down, you will have at least three months notice period to download all your data. It is yours and you own it
What will be the price of the Memoto camera?
The retail price of the camera is $279 (including a one year subscription to the service).
When can I have it?
We will start shipping in February/March 2013 for Kickstarter backers, April 2013 for everyone else. We will provide weekly or bi-weekly updates with full transparency all the way up until we are ready to start shipping. If you are supporting our project, we will be on standby to always answer any questions you might have as soon as possible.
What markets will the Memoto camera sell to?
The Memoto camera will ship to anywhere in the world, as long as we are able to get certification to sell it there. When we start shipping we will have at least FCC and CE certification for shipping to the US and Europe.
Will there be an API?
Yes we will provide an API. We believe in creating opportunities for a healthy ecosystem of apps to grow, and the best way for us to do this is by providing an API.
Will there be other smartphone apps than for Android or IOS?
There will be a web application available as well. Most of our developers (all except one, actually) use OS X or Linux so there is in-house interest in getting Linux to work. It's a matter of seeing that there is sufficient demand to make apps for other platforms.
The camera will be safe to wear in your daily outdoor life, as long as your daily outdoor life doesn’t include swimming or pearl fishing.
Between one and two days.
Memory size, maximum number of photos stored on the camera?
The camera contains 8 GB of flash memory, storing about the equivalent of a full battery life cycle worth of photos. When the photos are uploaded, we are compressing them further with minimal impact on visual quality to be able to store them at an affordable cost.
Is there an on/off button?
No. The camera will turn itself off when it is laid flat or put in a dark place, such as a pocket. Otherwise, it will be on.
What constitutes light and dark?
The camera has light detection capability and will not take pictures in really dark environments. This is a way to conserve battery power and make the camera sleep. Also, this way you will not end up with thousands of black images.
We cannot answer where the line is between low and dark light is drawn, yet. There is still user testing to be done.
What kind of image sensor are you using?
The 5.0MP sensor is from Omnivision and uses their back-light illuminated BSI pixel technology. There are few sensors that would perform better at difficult lighting conditions while also fitting into this very small camera body.
The camera module has a fixed focus lens with 70 degree viewing angle. The near focus limit we will choose is pending user testing.
Are there any example pictures available?
No. We will not be able to show (or, for that matter, see ourselves) sample photos before January 2013. We refer to the section "Production Schedule" above. Since we only have lab prototypes as of now, we don't have any end-result full resolution photos taken with the camera. When we get the first pre-run batch from the factory we will be able to provide early examples of the camera in action.
Have you thought about integrity? Is it legal to photograph everything?
Memoto’s products and services are all about integrity. Everything you create with Memoto is yours - only yours. If you want to share your content with someone else we think you should. But only you decide when to do that. And even when you have shared your content you are still the owner of it.
Legally, you may photograph what you want, as long as you don’t obviously infringe someone else’s integrity or violate an official photo ban. Two things follow from this: firstly, you have extensive rights to photograph what ever you find interesting or important or beautiful or for other reason worth documenting. Secondly, you have significant responsibilities to respect other people’s integrity. If someone asks you not to use your Memoto camera - then please don’t. If someone doesn’t explicitly ask you, but you have reason to believe that the place or the context is unappropriate for photographing - then please don’t.
Will you sell information (such as GPS data) to third parties?
No. We will not sell or give away any user information to any third party. This is the main reason we are charging a fee for the storage service. There is a saying around the interwebs now: "If You're Not Paying For It, You Become The Product" - we would like to keep you as customers.
Will the camera photograph me when I’m in the bathroom?
The camera is designed to be easy to take on and off. The clip on the back lets you quickly take off the camera when entering places where photographing is inappropriate. Being the size of about half a matchbox you can easily place the camera in your pocket until you feel it is OK to put it back on.
Another way of shutting the camera off is to place it flat on a table. Then it will stop taking pictures in a few seconds.
Who owns my photos?
You do. We will store them encrypted and they will never be viewed by anyone without your explicit consent. You (and nobody else) will always be able to download the photos to your own harddrive if you no longer want to keep them with Memoto. If you ask us to delete your account we will delete all of it and not keep anything lying around for later use. And again, you will be able to download all your photos first.
Can I use the camera if there’s a photo ban in my work place?
Photo bans are most often there for a reason and we recommend you to follow them.
What is Memoto's stance concerning privacy, integrity and safety surrounding the use of the Memoto lifelogging camera?
Since before we started working on the Memoto camera we've been researching the whole field of Quantified Self and lifelogging, and we've documented our insights and viewpoints regularly on our blog since May. There are many issues related to privacy and integrity, and here are some specific blog posts with links and comments to articles that illuminates different aspects of these issues.
It's a very complex issue, with laws being different from country to country. We're in ongoing talks with lawyers, and this is something that will have to be resolved as we move forward and collect real data from how our product is used.
Lifelogging is a term that describes the activities and tools used to track your self and your life. It can be hardware products like Nike Fuelband or Fitbit or software like Runkeeper or Fitocracy.
Memoto adds a visual experience to the lifelogging world - with the ability to track every moment you’ve seen and go back and re-live that moment.
Kickstarter is a community for crowdfunding. Users of Kickstarter chip in money in ideas to help them happen in reality. What the users receive in return varies, but most of the time it’s the product itself or just the knowledge of having helped out for a greater good.
The ideas can be practically anything from art projects to hardware inventions. When running a Kickstarter campaign you open up a project and describe what you want to do (for instance a lifelogging camera), what you need money for and how much money you need.
What's the connection between Memoto and Kickstarter?
Memoto ran a successful Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign from Oct. 23 to Nov. 30, 2012, and has Kickstarter to thank for getting off to a flying start. You can read our inside report from the preparations and during the actual campaign on our blog here.